Friday, July 06, 2007

Laundry Lists

I'm not a fan of "laundry lists". Eric over at Gymnophiliac has another ambitious but flawed post, this time dealing with children and nudity.

Unfortunately, Eric spends most of his post listing things that pose dangers to children (and adults, for that matter), such as automobiles, obesity, violence in media, global warming, child molesting, pornography, etc. Eric claims that these are "real dangers facing children that parents don't know about, downplay, or outright ignore". This is a total leap of faith - to assume that parents are unaware of any of these dangers is downright ridiculous. If anything, parents and society in general are OVERPROTECTIVE when it comes to any one of these issues.

But then Eric goes on to attack sports, religion and even homework as being dangers to children.
Contrary to the message of every sports movie ever made, there's very little redeeming quality to be found in organized sports, and what value there is decreases exponentially with levels of competitiveness...Despite the conventional wisdom, homework has a lot of negatives and no positives to speak of.

There is no point to be made here, it's just random demonizing. Sure, there has to be somebody out there making these arguments, but it's way out of the mainstream and has no bearing on reality.

Eric eventually concludes that simple nudity is not harmful to children and that society's rejection of nudism is not based on any rational thinking or scientific study. I agree. Most fear of the nude human body originates in religious indoctrination which fosters shame and irrational modesty.

The fundamental flaw in Eric's laundry list is that none of the dangers he mentions (except for religion) have any direct or even indirect effect on societal attitudes toward nudity. Merely pointing and saying "A-ha!" is not a sound basis for debate or making a point- it's just making straw man arguments.

Sorry, Eric, while I appreciate your efforts in attempting to construct what you feel is an important series of arguments, you completely undermine yourself when you say "We live in a society that all but assumes that all men are pedophiles." Even in context this is a foolish and paranoid statement. If you said "we live in a society that all but assumes that all men exposing their genitals in the presence of a child are pedophiles", you might have a point.

Children are the most natural nudists. They love to run around naked and have not yet developed the shame and modesty that society imposes. Nudism and how it can relate to children in a safe and meaningful way is an important issue and needs to be addressed in a responsible manner. Pointing fingers and making laundry lists does not do anything to shed light on how we can cure the disease in our society that has made God's most wonderful creation, the human body, into an object of shame.

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